By CAROLYNE NJOGU
Who are you? Why are you here? What would you like to create?
Or simply, how do you want to transcend this life through your creative powers?
Mahatma Gandhi challenged us to create the change we wish to see in the world. His point, while simple in thought, is quite complex in execution.
Needless to say, the wisdom he shared is as potent as life itself.
To create, you must be persuaded you have what it takes. This unwavering belief is the genesis of creativity – from which abundance flows in the creative process. Evidently, how you see yourself informs and inspires your creative work.
According to Scott Barry Kaufman, a research expert on creativity, “Creativity pervades human life. It is the mark of individuality, the vehicle of self-expression, and the engine of progress in every human endeavour.”
Today, we would not be enjoying the benefits of past innovations from the Stone Age, Industrial Age, and all ages in between if humans before us didn’t envision the world we live in now.
So, what influences creativity? Here are a few that come to mind.
Presence is the influencing factor that gets your team or stakeholders on board. In simplistic terms, executive presence is the ‘wow factor’ on your ability to lead action.
In her book, Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, social scientist Amy Cuddy argues that, “presence is a state of being attuned to and able to comfortably express our true thoughts, feelings, values and potential… confidently without arrogance.”
So, how you see yourself and give meaning to situations and circumstances around you determines how others perceive and follow you as their leader.
Your creative output is accentuated by your essence and uniqueness expressed through style, substance, and character.
For example, the late Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s spirit and presence continue to inspire change today. His vision for justice and equity for all still endures.
Passion is what drives you to do what you love to do. You do what you do because you derive an intrinsic thrill whenever you engage in your craft.
The late Steve Jobs’ passion to innovate was contagious and inspired many. His passion lives on, and his voice beckons, “Love what you do.”
Developing and honing your passion to expertise and mastery status takes time. Underscoring the reality is that passion is the fuel that ignites your flames.
This has to be coupled with grit. Dr Angela Lee Duckworth, a psychologist at University of Pennsylvania explains grit as the ability to endure in pursuit of purpose for a very long time.
Clearly, you need grit to push beyond limits and get out of your comfort zone, thereby realising your vision and living in purpose. Wouldn’t you want this?
Purpose is the reason you do what you do.
In his TedTalk, Simon Sinek charges us to, “Start With Why” – because knowing why you do what you do will draw and pull together even the most unlikely stakeholders to champion your cause.
Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014? The campaign raised over USD200mil, and inspired thousands to be more creative in their fundraising efforts.
When you decide to live in purpose, resources and opportunities start to align with ease. It is as if the creative force, the Creator of all things in the universe conspires for your sake.
Values and beliefs
To realise your creative vision, you need to be clear on the set of values and beliefs to guide you or your organisation sustainably.
Knowing what you stand for is not only good for ethics, but it’s imperative in attracting the right talent pool and stakeholders.
Today’s workforce is quite diverse. Technology, globalisation, politics, economy, climate change, and the rise of human consciousness are shaping employees’ expectations.
A study by Harvard Business Review on self-clarity reveals that, “having a clear sense of self elucidates which type of career options best match one’s strengths and fulfil one’s values, thereby enabling people to be clearer and more confident about their career decisions.”
Overall, values and beliefs help you focus your passion towards your purpose and amplify your presence – thus distinguishing you and your organisation from the masses.
Memories, especially those formed in our childhood years, are extremely powerful. These experiences shape our worldview and evolve from there onwards.
Luminaries like Nelson Mandela, Thomas Edison, Gandhi, King, and Dr Wangari Muta Maathai (The Green Belt Movement founder and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate) created change inspired by their early childhood memories.
Our childhood experiences can inspire or cripple our future, unless we choose to channel those experiences for good, and for the benefit of others.
For example, the new member of the royal family in England, the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle, has had to define her life to live on her own terms following her childhood experiences as a bi-racial growing up in the Unites States.
She is reported as saying that she plans to use her new platform as a royal member to continue with her philanthropic work for a wider reach − with hopes to inspire change for those marginalised − a cause she is passionate about since childhood.
Like many change agents before her, Markle has learnt to embrace her quirkiness to confront the status quo.
As a result, she has already inspired women across the globe to believe in their own ‘superpowers’.
As a result, women have a new paradigm and platform from which humanity is enriched and builds on today for a better tomorrow.
To thrive in today’s world and remain relevant in the future, you will need to be more versatile than ever before.
How well you adapt amid life’s pressures will either present opportunities or threats.
In her book Mindset: Changing the Way You Think to Fulfil Your Potential, Carol S Dweck, a researcher and psychology professor at Stanford University notes that those who constantly seek to boost their learning and intelligence embody a growth mindset, while those who don’t, embody a fixed mindset.
How well you nurture your agility and adapt in today’s evolving environments will determine if your creativity is at par with the prevailing market and society’s needs.
Therefore, it is critical that you embrace a growth mindset. As you grow, giving your contributions to humanity, however big or small, will be inevitable.
Tying it all together
Identity and creativity are inextricably linked. This linkage is the thumbprint of our uniqueness and self-expression manifested as the creative output.
The confluence of one’s presence, passion, purpose, values and beliefs, background experiences, and adaptability augments self – and brings forth novelties of ideas, thoughts, products, and services.
Conclusively, creativity is divine – human beings are uniquely designed to do a specific work that ought to fulfil them when they engage only in that assignment.
Carolyne Njogu inspires professionals to fulfilment for a better life, better career, and better results. She is the founding principal at VPF Strategies, a coaching and consulting agency, and the author of Being Grounded: 21 Days To Come Alive And Love Your Life. To share your thoughts on the importance of having creative thinking skills at work today, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.